First Sunday of Advent (Hope)
God’s Promise Will Be Fulfilled
Jeremiah 33:14–16, Psalm 25:1–10, 1 Thessalonians 3:9–13, Luke 21:25–36, II Nephi 8:18–21, Doctrine and Covenants 152:4a and d, 161:6a–b
“Joseph, Kind Joseph” — HS 234
OR “Heir of All the Waiting Ages” — HS 253
Welcome and Community Concerns
Prayer for Concerns
Call to Worship
…I, God, have not forsaken you nor have I changed in regard to the great and important work…which I have called you to do…. My promises are sure; my yoke is easy and my burden is light for those who love me and walk in the light of my Spirit. —Doctrine and Covenants 152:4a, d
“Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus” — HS 201
OR “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” — HS 211
To Bethlehem and Beyond
Set up either the stepping-stone or path of HOPE leading toward Bethlehem, as described in “Visual Suggestions for Advent” following this worship outline.
Scripture: Luke 21:25–36
“Be alert at all times, praying that you may have…strength…to stand before the Son of Man” (v. 36).
We look at Advent in two ways: back on the events of history and forward to the second coming. We are reminded to be watchful and prayerful. Life’s difficulties, challenges, and disappointments have been and will be part of our lives. But we live with faith that God’s promises will be fulfilled. We live in Advent, with daily expectation and hope.
Light the Candle of Hope
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:9–13
“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…” (v. 12).
As part of the Disciples’ Generous Response, we ask you to integrate the message of “giving to
your true capacity” and “sharing equally” to fund the World Church Mission Initiatives and your local and mission center ministries. Generosity stories are provided to keep the church in touch with how contributions to Mission Tithes focus on the whole mission of Jesus Christ through the five life-changing, church-changing, and world-changing Mission Initiatives. Please use the stories, testimonies, and up-to-date contribution information as part of your offertory ministry. Visit www.CofChrist.org/generositystories to print a copy, or contact your pastor, congregational financial officer, or worship coordinator for a copy. You can also find additional material to assist with the congregation’s understanding of A Disciple’s Generous Response at www.CofChrist.org/generosity.
Blessing and Receiving of Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Contributions (includes Oblation) and Mission Tithes
“Light Dawns on a Weary World” (while receiving the offering) — R 3
Prayer for Peace
Scripture: II Nephi 8:18–21
OR Doctrine and Covenants 161:6a–b
OR Read “Looking for the Saviour” by Max Lucado from One Incredible Moment (Thomas Nelson, 2006, ISBN 9781404104044), 81–82.
“God Almighty, We Are Waiting” (see words and music)
Based on Jeremiah 33:14–16 with a call to come to the Lord’s Table.
“I will fulfill the promise I made…”
Leader: We confess to you, O Lord
Congregation: To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust.
Leader: Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame.
Congregation: Make me to know your ways, O Lord. Teach me your paths.
Leader: Lead us in your truth, and teach us, For you are the God of salvation. For you we wait.
Congregation: To you I confess my shortcomings: my lack of love, my lack of faith, my lack of hope in daily living.
Leader: Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and decrees.
—Based on Psalm 25:1–10
Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Hymn of Preparation
“Jesus, Remember Me” — NS 26
OR “Eat This Bread” — NS 8
Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine
“Sent Forth by God’s Blessing” — HS 493
OR “This God Is the God We Adore” — HS 481
Visual Suggestions for Advent
Each week of Advent through Epiphany (January 6, 2013) has a focus moment called “To Bethlehem and Beyond.” This is the time for the emphasis on the Advent themes of hope, peace, love, and joy. The fifth Sunday’s emphasis is “life” and Epiphany’s focus is “light.” The metaphor is a path to the crèche and then on out into the world.
- Use long strips of fabric to represent each path: hope, peace, love, and joy. Put one up each week that begins on one side of the rostrum and ends part way across where a large crèche has been placed. These strips can be different colors and textures and as long or short as necessary.
For the fifth week (December 30, 2012), move or unroll the strips of fabrics so they extend from the crèche to the other side. If the fabric goes beyond the vision of the congregation, the symbol of moving into the future is more vivid.
For the sixth week start with the strips of fabric gathered in a pile up front as if waiting to be put away. Now we are called to take what we have experienced and move out into the world. During the focus moment have someone come forward, take each strip, and extend the strip up the center aisle or actually through the congregation symbolizing moving outward.
- Use large stepping-stones leading up to the crèche. One should be placed each week leading to Bethlehem. The words hope, peace, love, and joy could be written on each stone.
The fifth and sixth weeks’ stones should be moved beyond the crèche either going beyond the setting or out into the congregation symbolizing going out into the world.
OR For the sixth week begin with the stones piled up as if waiting to be put away. During the focus moment have someone come forward, pick up each stone and reposition them up the center aisle of the sanctuary symbolizing moving out into the world.
Scripture: Jeremiah 33:14–16
Exploring the Scripture
Our text today from the prophet Jeremiah is prophetic in the full sense of the word. It is a declaration of God’s intent for the people of Israel and Judah. It is a message of hope. The opening lines speak of the fulfillment of promise: “The days are surely coming” indicate not possibility or even probability. They give assurance; there is to be no doubt. In verse 15, through the prophet, God indicates that a leader (“righteous Branch”) will emerge from the line of David. Such a hoped-for savior was expected to come from the descendants of King David. This prophecy is faithful to that honored tradition.
The promise that this leader will “execute justice and righteousness in the land” tells of his true role and mission. Rather than provide expectation that the people will be set free from outside oppression, this “righteous Branch” will champion God’s way. Here we get a hint that freedom and hope come not just from release from domination and captivity by other nations. The future lies, rather, in the people living according to God’s will. The injustices suffered by the people are of their own making. They are about how people treat their own, not just how one nation or group treats others.
In this text God promises to raise up leaders who will stand firmly for righteousness and justice: for the reign of God. They will not be swayed by evil influences and power plays that result in exclusion and oppression. Such leaders will keep their attention, and that of their people, focused on God and God’s will for creation. In verse 16 a new name for Jerusalem is given: “The Lord is our righteousness.” By giving their whole attention to God, who is righteous, the people will become righteous.
The message of Jeremiah 33:14–16 is as important today as it was when it was given. This first Sunday of Advent is a time to begin anticipating God’s gift of a “righteous Branch” who will speak words of truth and hope directly to our life situations. Through the eyes of Christian faith we see Jesus as the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophetic words. Through Jesus’ life and ministry, we understand God’s intentions for creation more clearly. Jesus was committed to affirming the worth and dignity of each person as evidenced by his reaching out to the oppressed and marginalized. He did indeed “execute justice and righteousness in the land.”
Notice that Jesus proclaimed a kingdom that was very much of this world. It had much more to do with how people in the here and now treat each other than about life after death. Jesus’ work was “in the land.” He was and still is the fulfillment of God’s promise of hope. His mission was to speak and show what it means to live according to God’s will. As we anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birth we are called to take up his mission and make it our own.
This year the first Sunday of Advent is on the day when congregations usually celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This sacrament symbolizes that God’s promise will indeed be fulfilled. It is the time when we reach out our hands and receive the symbols of God’s greatest gift to us—God’s Son. In Communion we recommit ourselves to focus on Jesus Christ and not allow all the other allures of the world to distract us as we anticipate the birth of the Messiah.
- God is sending One who will fulfill God’s promises to Judah and Israel, and also to us.
- The new leader will bring about justice and righteousness.
- God’s will is for kingdom living in this life.
- Jesus fulfilled God’s promise of hope; justice and righteousness are found in him.
Questions for the Speaker
- Where do you see the need for hope among people you meet and observe?
- How do see this message from Jeremiah applying to todays’ world?
- How has Christ brought you hope, justice, and righteousness?
- What are your personal hopes for this Advent season?